UPDATE: Dave O’Brien believes — and he tends to be right about such things — that the Braves will fire Frank Wren, possibly as soon as this morning. He expects Fredi Gonzalez to stay, but several coaches to be let go.
9:15 AM: The three guys who probably write the most about the Braves are Dave O’Brien and Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Mark Bowman of MLB.com. All three of them seem to be saying the same thing today: Fredi Gonzalez and/or Frank Wren are out in Atlanta. First Bradley:
I’m never comfortable with suggesting a team has “quit,” simply because I’m not a mind-reader. Sometimes you’re outplayed. Sometimes you’re unlucky. Sometimes the other team is just better than you. That said …
For argument’s sake, let’s say a team had quit: Would it look much different from the Braves’ past six games?
The disclaimer aside, yes, he is saying the Braves have quit on Fredi. And I am of the same mind he is: you can’t know what goes on in a ballplayer’s head unless they tell you and the idea of players “quitting” on a manager is just as often a creation of media types as it is reality, but jeez man, this has been the most uninspired and aimless month or two of baseball since the Russ Nixon era in Atlanta. Actually, strike that. Nixon had some good young players who just weren’t ready yet. They tried. This is more like the Chuck Tanner years.
In linking Bradley’s story on Twitter, O’Brien says:
And so the #Braves begin the week of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Not to be cruel, but some folks will pay for this debacle.
— David O’Brien (@DOBrienAJC) September 22, 2014
Not to put too fine a point on it because O’Brien seems like a good guy, but he is not exactly the sort who tends to be overly critical of Braves brass. Some Braves fans derisively refer to him as the team’s stenographer. I think that’s unfair to O’Brien, but there is no escaping the fact that, if you’ve lost O’Brien, man, you’ve lost everyone.
On to Bradley who, despite working for MLB.com, may be the most consistently critical media voice when it comes to the Braves:
As the Braves have collapsed over the past few weeks, there has been growing reason to wonder about the futures of general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez. The club has not dismissed a general manager or manager since 1990. But this could change within the next few days.
If the Braves opt to part ways with Wren, they will likely utilize assistant general manager John Coppolella as an interim general manager until hiring a permanent replacement.
That’s quite a chorus. I don’t think it would sing in unison in this particular way unless the signal was sent from someone telling them that stuff is about to go down.
My view: Wren has done OK with small signings and the Braves continue to produce some decent young players (though not as many as they used to). His big moves, though, have been pretty bad, from the B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla signings to giving Chris Johnson a contract extension that he is unlikely to ever live up to. The lineup was atrocious this year in large part to Uggla and Upton and, despite jettisoning Uggla during the season, Wren didn’t do anything close to enough to add firepower even though a playoff spot was the Braves’ for the taking.
As for Gonzalez: it’s easy to overstate the impact that a manager has on a team, but he has penciled Upton into the first or second slot in the lineup 102 times despite his .282 OBP and he has not once suggested in a post-game interview that he’s particularly distressed in why this team is playing so poorly. No matter what you think of the whole “they quit on their manager” thing, this is a team clearly playing out the string.
Does one go? Does the other? Do both? I have no idea, but it sure feels like a bloodbath is in the offing.